~ South Carolina, Arkansas win; National Guard Regions Three and Five Marksmanship Championships
by Maj. Theresa Austin, National Guard Marksmanship Training Center
BUTNER, North Carolina– COVID-19, the virus that stopped the world, took it’s hit on the marksmanship community. Ranges were closed all over the nation and world, just as local businesses were closed. The Marksmanship Advisory Council (MAC) Region Four was canceled, and Three and Five were nearly canceled. That is until Camp Butner Training Center came to the rescue, agreeing to host this “Super MAC.”
“We used to have it here years ago,” said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Lawrence, infantry Soldier from the South Carolina National Guard and the MAC three regional representative. “Sgt. 1st Class Vicky Johnson, she’s like, we can do it and I’m, like, great. So, she gave me the green light. We started coordinating from there.”
Lawrence is the fulltime unmanned aerial system program manager and state marksmanship coordinator in South Carolina. He loves shooting, which began when he was a junior in high school and has been shooting with the Army National Guard 15 years. As familiar as he is with competitive shooting, this was his first year as a regional representative, and it was a challenging one trying to pull together two MAC regions, and especially with several states declining to host until the last second.
“We got all this done in about 2 weeks,” he said. “So, it’s been tough on me, and them.”
The Marksmanship Advisory Council Region Three and Five “Super MAC” Championships are elite shooting championships for National Guard Soldiers and Airmen and was hosted by the North Carolina National Guard at Camp Butner Training Center, Butner, North Carolina, September 14-16, 2020.
Twenty-five teams, 100 Soldiers and Airmen, from 14 states were in attendance: Pennsylvania (an honorary team hailing from MAC Region Two), MAC Three Regional competitors from Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and the Virgin Islands, and MAC Five competitors from Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. They all went head-to-head on Camp Butner’s shooting ranges to determine the marksmanship individual and team champions for each region.
The match was sponsored and supported by the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center, the home of marksmanship for the National Guard, for Guard members to hone their perishable marksmanship skills while competing in a unique combat-focused training environment.
Even with the difficulties of trying to pull off a Super MAC and a few hiccups here and there, the competitors saw some benefits to the larger size of the event.
“It’s more beneficial in a larger group,” said Master Sgt. Edwin Garcia, a cryptological linguist with the Kentucky Army National Guard who has been shooting competitively for four years. “Because that amount of people gets put on your EIC scores, so, you can have more people actually get national leg points. If there’s 30 people, you’re only getting two or three leg points or two or three people that are legging. But with this, you might get 10 people that are legging.”
To encourage Soldiers and Airman to improve their marksmanship, the Distinguished Marksmanship Badge was instituted in 1884 and broken down into two disciplines in 1903- Distinguished Pistol Shot Badge and the Distinguished Rifleman’s Badge. There is, also, the Distinguished International Shooter Badge. These three badges are the most prestigious marksmanship badges Soldiers and Airmen can earn in their military career.
To receive these badges, Soldiers and Airmen earn points, aka legs, toward these coveted badges by performing well at Excellence in Competition matches held throughout the country. Those who place in the top ten-percent of all non-distinguished competitors in an EIC match earn points.
The first points immediately earn the Solider or Airmen an EIC Marksmanship badge (bronze). After earning 20 leg points, the military awards them the EIC Marksmanship badge (silver). Once they have earned 30 legs, they are awarded the appropriate Distinguished Badge.
Legging not only earns badges but helps the Soldier improve their basic qualification scores which equate to promotion points in the Army.
“We all know that rifle marksmanship and pistol marksmanship scores in the lower ranks are actually worth promotion points,” said Garcia. “I mean, that translates to money. I would love to do this for free, but I’m not at that place yet. So, if those guys are doing it to help them excel in the ranks and get promotion points, this is the kind of stuff that will draw that barely passing score to expert level.”
The Super MAC Championship was divided into 10 separate courses of fire using service rifles and service pistols: Special Zero, Combat Rifle EIC, Rifle Close Quarter Battle, Reflexive Fire, General George Patton Combat Rifle Team Match, General George Patton Combat Pistol Team Match, Combat Pistol EIC, and Rapid Pistol Close Quarter Battle.
“There’s more to shooting than just going to the range and qualing,’ said Lawrence. “I mean, you can incorporate these anti-body armor drills, these the transitions, the transition targets, transition weapon systems, going from rifle to pistol, you know, all that basic fundamentals of shooting. It’s building those fundamentals for combat sustainment and training. I mean, it’s to reinforce everything that we do in the Army.”
“It’s just what we do,” he said.
Marksmanship is essential in the military and new shooters need to get involved in these competitions. New shooters are the most important players in these events, according to Lawrence.
“That’s what it’s about! Competition, this type of stuff, is all about the new shooters,” he said excitedly. “That’s why we have a new shooter rule. It’s always about the novice shooter, to gain that interest for him to get that spark, for him to keep wanting to come back. The novice shooters, they should be the guys getting all the awards because that’s what competition is about. It’s passing down the information from senior to junior to private.”
These competitions and this mindset of passing down the knowledge made a big impact on a new shooter from the Arkansas Army National Guard, infantryman Sgt. Daniel Hughey, who first began shooting when he was in Cub Scouts and continued throughout his time in Boy Scouts.
“It’s incredible,” Hughey said emphatically. “It’s very fun. It was fast-paced and I talked with other marksman here to get more knowledge and I loved it! It was wonderful. I shot as best as I could.”
Hughey recently graduated from the SAWE, Small Arms Weapons Expert, Course at the NGMTC, where he performed very well. There they mentioned the opportunity to attend the MAC, he asked if he could go, and then, jumped right in and found out how to do it later.
“They told me about this competition. I asked my leadership back in my unit. They gave me permission, then I hopped on board,” he said. “Anybody that’s a new shooter or hasn’t shot the competitions before, I think that they should ask about any competitions they can get involved in, shoot as well as you can at the qualifications with your rifle at your units and that will open the doors.”
MAC 3 Overall Team Champions
1. South Carolina Alpha – 6432-100x
Sgt. John Jordan, Spc. Daniel Rivers, Spc. Mackenzie Shealy, Spc. Mack Williams
2. Alabama Alpha – 6361-101x
Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Ford, Staff Sgt. Dustin Fox, Sgt. Jeffery Peterson, Spc. Avery Rains
3. Kentucky Alpha – 6304-74x
Sgt. Adam Brown, Master Sgt. Michael Dement, Master Sgt. Edwin Garcia, Staff Sgt. Shahid Iqbal
MAC 3 Overall Match Champion (Open)
1. Sgt. John Jordan, South Carolina Army National Guard; Score 1319-22x
2. Sgt. 1st Class Edward Cole, Kentucky Army National Guard; Score 1315-34x
3. Master Sgt. Edwin Garcia, Kentucky Army National Guard; Score 1311-26x
MAC 3 Individual Overall Champion (Novice)
1. Staff Sgt. Sean Hart, Tennessee Army National Guard; Score 1258-16x
2. Sgt. Jeffery Peterson, Alabama Army National Guard; Score 1190-15x
3. Spc. Daniel rivers, South Carolina Army National Guard; Score 1167-16x
MAC 3 Rifle Excellence in Competition High Shooter
Spc. Mackenzie Shealy, South Carolina Army National Guard; Score 179-6x
MAC 3 Pistol Excellence in Competition Champion High Shooter
Spc. Avery Rains, Alabama Army National Guard; Score 191-16x
MAC 5 Overall Team Champions
1. Arkansas Alpha – 6230-93x
Maj. Samuel Freeman, Sgt. Clayton Ketscher, Staff Sgt. John Staats, Sgt. Heriberto Tapia
2. Nebraska Alpha – 6150-88x
Staff Sgt. Tony Franklin, Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Friesell, Capt. Jonathan Lintz, Sgt. 1st Class Heath Wragge
3. Missouri Alpha – 5986-84x
Sgt. Ross Groenke, Staff Sgt. Joshua Heilig, Staff Sgt. Travis Mathews, Staff Sgt. Zachary Walker
MAC 5 Overall Match Champion (Open)
1. Maj. Samuel Freeman, Arkansas Army National Guard; Score 1333-30x
2. Sgt. 1st Class Heath Wragge, Nebraska Army National Guard; Score 1286-30x
3. Staff Sgt. John Staats, Arkansas Army National Guard; Score 1272-22x
MAC 5 Individual Overall Champion (Novice)
1. Staff Sgt. John Staats, Arkansas Army National Guard; Score 1272-22x
2. Sgt. Heriberto Tapia, Arkansas Army National Guard; Score 1198-22x
3. Staff Sgt. Joshua Heilig, Missouri Army National Guard; Score 1195-21x
MAC 5 Rifle Excellence in Competition High Shooter
Maj. Samuel Freeman, Arkansas Army National Guard; Score 179-3x
MAC 5 Pistol Excellence in Competition Champion High Shooter
Sgt. 1st Class Edward Cole, Kentucky Army National Guard; Score 180-11x
Additional scores can be found at https://wpwafsam.weebly.com select 2020 MAC Regional Events.
For more photos search for NGMTCPAO under the People tab @Flickr.
About Us: Established in 1968, the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center (NGMTC) is the National Guard Bureau’s (NGB) center for managing marksmanship training courses and competitive marksmanship programs. It serves all 54 states and territories and is located on Robinson Maneuver Training Center in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The NGMTC is headquarters for the “All Guard” service rifle, service pistol, multi-gun, and international combat teams. The NGMTC is also home to the annual Winston P. Wilson National Championships, where guardsmen may earn the NGB Chief’s 50 Marksmanship Badge. For more information call 501-212-4531/4549, visit us at https://ngmtc.wordpress.com or http://www.facebook.com/NGMTC.